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Jul. 30, 2004. 09:12 AM
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OD mystery halts Zeta-Jones stalker trial

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A hearing for a woman accused of sending letters that threatened actress Catherine Zeta-Jones was postponed Thursday because the alleged stalker was groggy from sleeping pills, the defendant's lawyer said.

Dawnette Knight, 32, took two pills she apparently bought from someone in the Los Angeles County jail, lawyer Richard Herman said outside court.

"She just wanted a good night's sleep. She just wanted sleeping pills and these worked real well," he said.

Knight did not appear in court Thursday for the hearing that will determine whether she stands trial. The night before, she fell asleep on the jail floor and was sent to a hospital for evaluation, Herman said.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg said the hearing would resume Friday.

Zeta-Jones and her husband, fellow Oscar winner Michael Douglas, testified Wednesday.

Zeta-Jones said she felt overwhelming fear after learning about the death threats contained in letters sent to her employees, family members and friends.

She read from 19 of the letters. Some suggested she would be chopped into pieces "like Sharon Tate," and referred to the violent deaths of President John Kennedy and Nicole Brown Simpson.

"We are going to slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs," one letter said.

Knight, who apologized last month in a letter that claimed she had been infatuated with Douglas, was arrested June 3 at her Beverly Hills, Calif., apartment after authorities traced several letters and phone calls.

She was charged with one felony count of stalking and 24 felony counts of making criminal threats and was held on $1 million bail.

"She's very, very sorry that all this happened," Herman said outside court Thursday.

"She had no idea that it would have caused such distress."

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